Friday, June 10, 2011

Bánh Mì for Ba - A Father's Day brunch?

While my wife was away for a week, I took the opportunity to indulge in watching a BBC documentary about baking bread called "In Search of the Perfect Loaf". Is it just me or does the BBC have far superior television than the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when it comes to food related programming? Yeah, I spent an hour watching a guy find different ways to bake really good bread and enjoyed every second of it. Seriously though, it was awesome and inspiring. So inspiring that I got kick started on my project of making Bánh Mì as a Father's Day breakfast. I'm not a father yet, nor do I live near enough to my Ba to give him a sandwich but I can write about it for him. Suddenly, I yearn to chase two tangents here but instead will settle for point form in an attempt to stay on topic.

1. Breakfast is a great meal and the idea that only certain foods can be eaten is a little bit close minded. Try a Bánh Mì or Bánh Bao for breakfast!

2. My dad eats super healthy and Bánh Mì isn't exactly the epitome of health food so he might've preferred a bowl of shredded wheat for this breakfast post. Then again, Father's day is a special day so why not indulge a little. Here's to your health, Ba.

Despite living near a couple bakeries that make great French baguette, I decided it would be better if I made my own. As far as I know, my family doesn't have a recipe for Bánh Mì so I scoured the internet until one from Viet World Kitchen appeared to fit my style. I learned that some bread recipes contain rice flour which explains why the bread from Bánh Mì shops have a slightly different taste and texture than French Baguette. It's a taste and texture I'm not crazy about so the recipe from Viet World Kitchen fit perfectly upon my taste buds. 

However, before we start making bread, we need to make some pickled Daikon (I should know what this is in Vietnamese, but I have spent more time in Japan than Vietnam) and Carrots. I say we because I want to include you, the reader, in this fun experience despite the fact that I was alone in this endeavor. After having found my recipe for baguette, I noticed a little recipe for these pickled delights on Viet World Kitchen once again. Although I paid little attention to the measurements, because my wife likes it to be extra vinegary, I really liked the whole salting/sugaring tip followed by squeezing of the veggies before putting them in the brine solution. It made all the difference in the world.

As for the protein, I decided to make my Ba Ngoai's Thit Nuong recipe. I was also lucky enough to have some Cha Lua (Vietnamese processed pork) from my great aunt. Finally, I bought some paté from the grocery store. 

 Bánh Mì Thit Nuong and Cha Lua

- French Baguette bought from the store or home made!
- Pickled Daikon and Carrots
- Fresh Cilantro
- Liver Paté
- Butter
- Cucumber, sliced into long sticks
- Cha Lua (Made by my great aunt)

Ba Ngoai's Thit Nuong (Deciphered from her notebook)
1 lb pork, thinly sliced (I used pork butt)
6 tsp Sugar
1 tsp salt
1-2 stalks of Green Onion, chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp of lemon grass, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp fish sauce

A few edits: I added 1 chopped shallot, and an extra garlic clove.

Mix it all in a bowl and let marinade for at least an hour and overnight if possible. I don't have any kind of grill but one can  put it on a grilling rack and set the oven to broil. It will crisp up deliciously. This time I fried them in a pan and placed them on a plate covered in paper towel to absorb the excess fat.
Side note:  However, in my quest to blacken the meat, I ended up blackening my pan. Originally I was going to try and make a little gravy/sauce from all the stuff that stuck to the pan but then it kind of became a sheet of black (Future experiment!). A little bit of vinegar and baking soda helped to transform my pan back into its steel-coloured state.

To begin sandwich making, slice open the bread, spread some paté on the bottom and some butter on top. Be generous, all the shops are. Fill with meat then toast in the oven to give that bread some extra bite. Add the veggies and enjoy. 

Seriously, enjoy it! The crunch of the bread mixed with the sweet and sour of the pickled veggies, the aromatic flavour of the cilantro, the fatty, juicy meat and the smoothness that is brought by the butter and paté. A great sandwich for a great Ba to start off a hopefully great Father's day.

This was my entry for June's edition of Delicious Vietnam #14 brought to you by Anh from A Food Lover's Journey and Ravenous Couple. The June edition is hosted by Dang and Oanh from rauom.


  1. Yum... fresh baguette is the best. I'm not much of a baker, but I want to try experimenting with that. Hope your Ba enjoyed the post in honor of him!

  2. @Pauline @thelipstickcafe

    I'm not much of a baker either, in fact I'm quite the opposite. So, if I can do it, anyone can! I'm looking forward to seeing what experiments you come up with.